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Q and A

Oct 04, 2011; Tom Hancock Asks:

In Your story about the beauty mark the main character is appalled that the girl that cut her returns to school wearing clogs. What's wrong with clogs? Clogs are really cool shoes! Even the trendy kind that don't have wooden soles.

Stacey answers:

Hi Tom. Here's the thing about clothes, youth, and judgement calls: since you're not a 22 year-old pop star, the simple fact that you think clogs are cool means that teenagers will find them extremely not cool. As I'm sure you know, opinions expressed in short stories are not necessarily those of the author. I actually like clogs. They're so geeky that they wrap around the corner and become cool again. I hope you introduce them to your summer wardrobe because they look especially great when worn with shorts or swimsuits.

Oct 01, 2011; Mixed up in Maine Asks:

I have been married for over a decade and my wife and I have a young child. I still care very much for my wife and I couldn't imagine not having our child as a daily part of my life. The sex with my wife has always ranged from adequate to pretty good. I figured it would be wise to marry someone who I got along with more so than someone who I had crazy hot sex with, because that part eventually cools off and the sex becomes less of a part of the marriage, right? Well, ten years down the road, my libido hasn't quelled much and the sex has gone from infrequent to barely adequate. Since the birth of our child my wife has even told me that she's less interested in sex and enjoys it less. Recently I met a single woman who knows I am married and she is willing to have sex with me on occasion. She is totally discreet and even said she does not want to break up my marriage. The sex with this woman is some of the best I've had all my life. It ranges from amazing to mind-blowing (and I'm not just comparing it to the sex with my wife). I am middle-aged (so is she) but this woman has me doing things I haven't done since my 20s (and never with my wife). Since I've met this woman I feel younger, my heart is light and I've become more productive at my job and getting more done around the house. My question is this; do you think there is any way I can tell my wife about this so I don't have to sneak around? I know this sounds pretty fucked up, but what do you think?

Stacey answers:

No, there's no way you can tell her and not have to sneak around, not unless you want to be ejected from your home and go live in an apartment complex. If you tell her, you turn over your fate to her--your life, really--because you have no idea how she'll react. Your wife might seem as stable and familiar as granite but if you wiggle her base there's no predicting what she'll do. She might leave you and never look back, she might smash your Precious Moment figurines, and I'm pretty certain she'll demand that you stop seeing your girl on the side. Yes, people have open marriages, but they make the arrangements beforehand. They share lots of love and a mutual disdain for monogamy. This doesn't sound like that.

You need to decide what you want, and that's not going to be easy. You are a guy, Mixed up, who likes things to be organized, but you need to know how you feel about all this and trying to organize feelings is like trying to corral a cat. Emotions are slippery and independent and chaotic and full of unnatural patience; they will wait out your efforts to control them. You need to know how you feel so you can know--not all the way, not perfectly--what to do. Everyone needs love to survive but only you can decide what kind of love you need most. There's passionate hot-sex love, family love, daddy love, and the wife-you-get-along-okay-with-love. I'm sure you'd like to have them all, and maybe someday you can, but it doesn't look good right now.

Why? Because you are a retard about feelings, Mixed up, your own and others. How can you ask for what you want if you're clueless about what you feel? Your emotions are in little pieces stored in separate boxes: your heart and your penis and your mind and your soul. You say you "care very much" for your wife. Dude, that is icy. It's an entire ice sculpture. You're supposed to love her. Life is long; marriage is longer. "Caring" is not going to take you all the way down that road.

You're even worse when it comes to the other woman. There's a robotic ring to the line "she's willing to have sex with me on occasion." It contrasts starkly with the adjective "mind blowing" that occurs further down (I don't know what the two of you are up to but please let it involve clown suits). Then you say you're lighthearted, and frankly I'm not surprised to hear mention of the heart because that kind of sex is a big fucking deal. For both of you. It's nice of her to say she doesn't want to break up your marriage, but what's she going to say? "I love wrecking homes"? Maybe she's in love with you. That would not be so unusual. Maybe you're in love with her. It kind of sounds like you are, or it sounds like you kind of are. Pretending that you're not swapping any emotions during these occasional outings isn't going to make things any clearer.

I recommend a walkabout. How about a week on the Appalacian trail? Alone Mixy. Figure out what's going on in there then decide what you have to do about it. You can love your other woman and not leave your family, you can not love your wife and live happily with her, you live as a hermit in the woods--whatever. But don't let it just happen because you're confused and torn right now. There will not be a perfect solution. There might not even be a good one. But it's still your life and you have the right and the responsibility to choose your own fate. So do it.

Sep 27, 2011; jimmy Asks:

My friend asks his gf "would you ever marry me?" and she replied "what you mean, like right now?" How should he take it?

Stacey answers:

He should take it as a lesson: ask a waffling question, get a confusing answer. Tell him he needs to ask her in a straightforward manner: duh. "Would you ever marry me" is a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose question. If she says yes and he doesn't ask her, she's humiliated, and she can't really say no: that "ever" precludes it since no one can predict her feelings until the end of time. When people get married, they throw themselves together in a complicated partnership involving family and money and children and plans: she needs a strong person. He does too but I think he already has one in her--that's why he asked in such an abject way. He's not sure he deserves her. I get it, no one likes to be that vulnerable; no one wants his heart broken into little pieces and stomped on. But real love requires real risk: he has to put himself on the line for her. That's how he's going to show that he deserves her, and that's how she's going to know she wants to say yes.

Sep 24, 2011; The sun is a lie. Asks:

Is onomatopoeia metaphorical?

Stacey answers:

Yes. What could be less literal than a word? There's no one thing for any word with the exception of proper nouns, which is exactly what the sun is, or has become now that we know that the stars are also suns. One could argue that since there's only one sun we call the sun, when you write, "The sun is a lie," everybody knows exactly what you're talking about. But everybody doesn't know exactly what you mean.

Sep 23, 2011; JP Asks:

Are the cavemen literally cavemen in the story? Or, are they meant to symbolize the negative version of a man?

Stacey answers:

I sort of want to kill you for asking this question, but if you were here in the room with me and I said, "I want to kill you for asking that question," would you run for your life? No you wouldn't, because basically you understand that all of language--everything we say and think and represent and dream and mean--is largely figurative. We are creatures of metaphor and culture and the meaning that slithers around, JP, and all art must joust with this slime of meaning. The story is metaphorical, every single story you've ever read or heard is metaphorical, and I would even go so far as to say that all of language is metaphorical, yup, every single word (though I would be willing to debate the inclusion of proper names). There isn't one thing that anything is all the time, there isn't one answer, and it's only when we get stuck inside our days and our heads that we can even manage the illusion that there's something as safe, stable, and predictable as something that means one thing. Light is both particle and wave motherfuckah. And then you die.

Sep 20, 2011; Pickles Asks:

Hey Stacey, since we have established that the internet is still potentially fun, would you care to share any cool oddball web sites that you favor? F'r'instance, have you checked out Scouting New York, whereat some young film location scout shares photos from his rambles in the metropolis?

Stacey answers:

Pickles, wow, Scouting New York is a great site. I'm in love with the elevator in Queens and plan to marry it. Lately I'm fascinated with the site drugs-forum.com. There are no pictures, no ads, just a bare-bones discussion board on the topic of how to obtain, process, and ingest drugs (mostly the latter). The entries are written in a fascinating third person style of slang and abbreviations, like: "SWIM was wondering if it was possible for his bunny rabbit to plug kratom extract, rather than parachuting it?"

I'm not sure what they're talking about but the answer is no.

Sep 15, 2011; Bob Asks:

Hey Stacey, I just read your story "My Date With Satan" for my creative writing class. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and commenced reading all your stories that are online.I'm broke as a joke, but am committed to purchasing one of your books immediately. Any advice as to which one should be my first priority? Or maybe I should just hold out for that pirate novel I've seen mentioned. What do you think? Thanks for the righteous stories.

Stacey answers:

Sorry Bob, I forgot about you. I am bad, bad, bad. Read Twin Study first. The pirate novel may be awhile.

Sep 07, 2011; Sophie Asks:

Hey Stacey! Love your work! I'm doing an oral interpretation of your story "Rats Eat Cats" for Speech competition. I like to think of it as, instead of a slow descent into madness, a slow descent into sanity or at least a version of it for someone. Also about how inaction is actually an action. Would you agree? Do you have any suggestions or insight as to how to perform these characters how you intended them? Thanks! ^_^

Stacey answers:

Aw, you made a kitty face from punctuation marks! Actually Sophie, I kind of forget how that story goes but your interpretation is probably better than mine anyway. I like a slow descent into madness and I also like a slow descent into sanity. Is oral interpretation where you fake-read the dialogue of a story as though it's a play, angling your body to different corners of the room for each character? I bet it is...which means you're in high school! Awesome! I did speech in high school too, not because I like making speeches but because I hated my life/Phoenix/parents so much that I decided I had to do the most difficult, terrifying extracurricular activity to ensure I'd get into a college that was far, far away. Now I'm back in Arizona, calling my parents every other day to tell them I love them. Don't worry--I still hate them too. And this stinking, cowboy wasteland. But I also love it.

For the characters, one thing I recall is that the cat girl is also an art chick--one of those blue-haired horn-rimmed girls who wears perfume that smells like gasoline does things like making giant paper mache ovaries and taking a vow of silence for every Saturday in March. She has strong feelings but also looks at everything with an aesthetic eye, which means she's also ironic. Her weirdness is somewhat calculated. The rat boy, on the other hand, is truly, honestly weird, which is one of the things that makes him fascinating to her.

Sep 03, 2011; Lunch Time Asks:

Hi Stacey, I'm passing through Tucson and I'm starving. Wanna have lunch?

Stacey answers:

Uh, was that yesterday? The answer is yes. If I could go back in time, I would have lunch with you yesterday.

Sep 01, 2011; Fantasy Mole Asks:

As soon as I posted, I realized my university in Montana in the 90s was already an anachronism, and I was presumptuous to assume the modern academy would retain such contrivances. Another format bites the dust. The format of your Q&A here presents a type of authority that led me to imagine you as teacher, holding forth. You were profiled by two and a half pages of questions and answers. Any elaborate presentations of fantasies projected by you would certainly count. I imagine the scroll of your fiction at reading pace writ large in Times Square would gain more attention than any ad for . There's a grant for that somewhere. //took break and read The Chair of Rejection// Well okay, maybe no grant, but I will purchase your Twin Study from the Amazons, consider your website a marketing success. As a followup, if you had a Jenny Holzer projection with Twitter-length restriction, what would your message be and where would you want it?

Stacey answers:

Thank you for thinking of me as holding forth. I try to think of myself that way too. Your question is really hard. But I guess if I could really say anything and put it anywhere, I'd beam the words: "That lady is your mommy and you love her. Jump into her lap and purr madly. #felinemindfuck" into the brain of my cat.

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